Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
It is defined as blood pressure higher than 140 over 90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). A diagnosis of hypertension may be made when one or both readings are high: systolic (the pressure as the heart pumps blood around the body), given first; or diastolic (pressure as the heart relaxes and refills with blood), given second. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss and chronic kidney disease.
Causes of Hypertension.
Acute stress, intense exercise and other factors may briefly elevate blood pressure even in people whose blood pressure is normal. For hypertension to be clearly diagnosed, there requires to be several readings of blood pressure, all showing that the blood pressure is higher than it should be. Blood pressure does vary throughout the day, lowering during sleep and rising on awakening. It also rises in response to excitement, anxiety and physical activity. Blood pressure also increases steadily with age as arteries become stiffer and narrower due to plaque build-up. Vascular and heart disease also contribute to rising blood pressure in older adults, and a high systolic reading is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in adults over 50 years old.
Other key contributors include lifestyle factors, such as:
- Physical inactivity
- A salt-rich diet associated with processed and fatty foods
- Alcohol and tobacco use.
Certain diseases and medications (as described below) can cause high blood pressure, and there are a number of general risk factors for hypertension, including:
- Age – everyone is at greater risk of high blood pressure as they get older. Prevalence of hypertension is higher in people over 60 years of age
- Race – African-American adults are at higher risk than white or Hispanic American adults
- Size – being overweight or obese is a key risk factor for hypertension
- Sex – males and females have different risk profiles. While lifetime risk is the same for everybody, men are more prone to hypertension at a younger age and women have a higher rate of hypertension at older ages
- Lifestyle – greater intake of dietary salt, excessive alcohol, low dietary potassium, and physical inactivity all contribute to an increased risk of hypertension.
Other risk factors include a family history of the disease, and chronic, poorly managed stress.
Specific Causes of Hypertension
Hypertension that is not caused by another condition or disease id known as Primary Hypertension. (or essential hypertension). This is more common than secondary hypertension.
Secondary hypertension has specific causes – that is, it is secondary to another problem. One example, now thought to be one of the most common causes of treatment-resistant hypertension, is primary aldosteronism, a hormone disorder causing an imbalance between potassium and sodium levels, thus leading to high blood pressure.
Secondary hypertension can also result from:
- Diabetes (both due to kidney problems and nerve damage)
- Kidney disease
- Pheochromocytoma (a cancer)
- Cushing syndrome (which can be caused by use of corticosteroid drugs)
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (disorder of the adrenal glands, which secrete the hormone cortisol)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland).
- Hyperparathyroidism (which affects calcium and phosphorous levels)
- Sleep apnea
Symptoms of Hypertension.
There are many symptoms of hypertension,some detected at early stages while others take long to be detected
High blood pressure itself is usually asymptomatic, meaning that patients do not experience any direct symptoms of the condition. This is why hypertension is often referred to as “the silent killer,” as it can quietly cause damage to the cardiovascular system. A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.
Treatment and Management of Hypertension.
Lifestyle changes are important for both treatment and prevention of high blood pressure, and they can be as effective as a drug treatment. These lifestyle changes can also have wider benefits for heart health and overall health.6
The lifestyle measures shown to reduce blood pressure and recommended by experts include:
- Salt restriction
- Reducing weight and maintaining it
- Consuming more vegetables, fruits and low-fat
- Regular physical exercise
- Stress reduction
- Moderation of alcohol consumption
There are also drugs that are used to treat hypertension which are quite effective but change of life-style is standard first-line treatment for hypertension.
Hypertension is a serious condition,which needs to be contained at all costs.If for instance you are undergoing stress,you should find solution as fast as possible so as to avoid mental issues associated with hypertension.